HYDE PARK — Two cultural institutions are teaming up to change the narrative of Chicago’s South Side.
The Silver Room’s Eric Williams, Rob McKay and Ron Trent will join Chosen Few DJs Wayne Williams, Alan King and Terry Hunter for a conversation at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave.
The talk will be moderated by radio show host Mario Smith.
Both groups are well-known for producing legendary summer events. Now in its 29th year, the Chosen Few Picnic draws 40,000 house music enthusiasts each year, and the Silver Room Block Party — a day-long festival that has featured local acts and vendors since 2002 — puts up similar numbers.
Last year, attendance spiked 30 percent despite rainy weather most of the day.
They’re also known for their contribution to the local economy, bringing the city a total of $4 million in revenue during their years of operation.
“The idea for the conversation came about after talking with people who didn’t realize how much time, money and effort it took to putting these things on,” said Williams, who moved his shop from Wicker Park to Hyde Park in 2015. “We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be good to have some transparency about what goes on so that people can have an appreciation for it?’
“We do these events because we love our community, and we love to see people come together to have a good time.”
The cultural impact of the Chosen Few Picnic and the Silver Room Block Party reaches far beyond the city limits, with people coming in from around the country (and from other countries) to take in the experience.
“It’s thousands and thousands of people supporting neighborhood stores,” said King, one of the Chosen Few’s earliest members. “It’s the people we employ, the food vendors that are typically local, minority-owned businesses, the security, the gate staff. We really try to focus on using people and businesses from the community.”
The two groups want to leverage their power to provide more opportunities for the city’s youth, launching a scholarship fund for Kenwood Academy High School students interested in learning about and carrying on the tradition of house music culture.
Following the discussion, people will have the opportunity to hit the dance floor as DJ Ron Trent spins some house favorites.
Tickets for the event are $15 in advance, and $25 at the door. All proceeds will go toward the scholarship fund.